Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Thank you for your sacrificial giving. The effort you have made to drop off envelopes at the church, to go to the diocesan website and donate online, or to send your money through the mail, has made a great difference. I know for many of you that this can be a real struggle. I am humbled by your generosity and your faithfulness to St. Andrew.
A couple of questions …how do we come together when we are so far apart? How can we be community when we are not in each other’s presence? How can we belong to one another when we cannot be in physical contact with one another?
An answer …there has always been a love that is boundless, not confined by time or space or place. There has always been the divine love of Christ from the beginning of existence to the end of time. We, by default, participate in this Love and it always connects us to one another and to God. Always we are invited to be conscious in our participation and connection to this Divine Love that is ours in Christ Jesus.
Two invitations …this is why I am offering the opportunities to intentionally unite by being a part of two actions that will help us stay consciously connected to one another and to the love of Christ. The Body of Christ at St. Andrew can continue to grow and learn and be transformed during this time of liminal space. I have mentioned these activities before in previous emails but I want to formally invite you to participate.
- The first action is to take a picture of your sacred space/prayer corner, and send it to us. Tell us when you use the space and what are the religious objects in the space, and, if you can, how it is helpful for you and your connection with God and others. For example, my sacred space usually is outside on my back porch but because of the weather currently, I am inside. In the morning, I sit in this chair. Either I sit in silence, which is the norm, but most recently, I am also listening to various podcasts on the spiritual life, or I am reading a book to help me grow spiritually. It gives me great inspiration, and reminds me who I am and who I am not and the work that I still need to do. The book I am currently reading is about transformation.
Some of you have already sent in your pictures, that is great! We are looking for more and hope to gather them all in a book. (Entitled something like, “How We Endured the Pandemic of 2020 — Sacred Spaces and Prayer Corners.”) If for any reason you wish to remain anonymous, just let us know.
- The second action is to be joined in spirit tomorrow, Tuesday, at 7:05 p.m. while we sit in stillness and silence in our own homes for as long as you would like. Know that some of us will be in silence for about 30 minutes (check yesterday’s email for more information and also see attached to this email instructions for the Method of Centering Prayer). If you give us your name, then we will know with whom we sit in silence and solidarity.
Both of these are opportunities to be positively influenced by each other. We can be reaffirmed that despite the variety of our sacred spaces/prayer corners we are still one in the Body of Christ. In addition, collectively being still and silent on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. tethers us in Divine Love even though we are not physically present to one another. God who is love connects us.
I pray you take advantage of these concrete opportunities for us to be one in Christ. Always I pray that we become more conscious of God’s tethered love for us, especially during this pandemic and the Easter season.
Peace to you
The Method of Centering Prayer – A Prayer of Silence and Intention
Scripture tells us that God is present to us in silence. Psalm 46:10 encourages us to “Be still, and know that I am God.” The prophet Elijah finds God not in the wind, earthquake or fire, but in the “still small voice.” (1Kings 19:9-12) The prophet Isaiah observes “By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)
Jesus instructs us that when we pray, “go to your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6) Where is that inner room? It is within us!
In Centering Prayer, we are accepting an invitation from God to simply be and to sit with God in stillness. It is a movement beyond conversation with God to communion with him. It is a prayer of intention in which the intention is to be present to God just as we are.
Yet, we all know what can happen when we try to enter that inner room within, to be silent and to quiet our minds…the mind suddenly gets very active, jumping from thought to thought.
In Centering Prayer, in order to deal with that situation, we choose a “sacred word” to silently say whenever our thoughts become too active. Anytime you feel yourself engaging in a thought, silently say your sacred word and let the thought pass by, like a cloud floating across the sky or a boat moving down a river. Don’t be discouraged if you have many thoughts and need to say your sacred word many times. Every time we need to use the sacred word, we are turning back to God. That process of always turning back to God is a beautiful prayer in itself.
Please read the guidelines below to help you begin your practice.
Guidelines of Centering Prayer
- Choose a sacred word. Say a brief prayer to the Holy Spirit to assist you in choosing the word. It should be a very short word, only one or two syllables, such as Jesus, Mary, Peace, Love, Let Go, Amen, Mercy, Abba. If you are not comfortable with using a sacred word, you can instead become aware of your breath or simply gaze inward.
- Sit comfortably, but with your spine long, and if possible, let your feet touch the floor. If you get too comfortable, you may fall asleep during the prayer. If that happens, return to the prayer upon awakening.
- Close your eyes and silently and softly introduce your sacred word.
- Any time you find yourself engaging with your thoughts or feelings, body sensations, memories, etc., gently return to the sacred word.
- At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with the eyes closed for a couple of minutes. Then, softly recite the Lord’s Prayer.
A typical practice is 20 to 30 minutes, but don’t feel you have to go that long at first. Even a practice of 5 minutes is a good way to begin. The more you pray in this way, the more you will look forward to this time of silence. The fruit of this prayer is not what happens during the prayer itself, although you may feel quite peaceful afterward. With a consistent practice of Centering Prayer, you may notice that you are less reactive, less complaining, less afraid, less anxious; more grateful, more joyful, more loving, more at peace, able to laugh more readily. But most especially, you will become more aware of the way that God is working in your everyday life and it will deepen your relationship with Him.